The City had an original 431 lights powered by natural gas. 152 lights reside within the City’s historical district. Discussions related gas light to LED conversions date back to the early 2000s. In 2006, the City’s Finance Committee reviewed engineering plans to convert all gas lights, however, upfront costs with newer LED technology were too costly at that time. In early 2016, the Public Works Committee reviewed annual operation and maintenance costs associated with the existing gas light program and the project savings in converting all lights to LED. The Committee highlighted the historical value of the lights and explained that if the lights were to be converted, the historic/existing aesthetic nature of both the light pole and the light (lumens) projected needed to be maintained. It was recommended that an in person demonstration of a converted LED light adjacent to a gas light be coordinated with both the Public Works Committee and Historic Preservation Foundation. In late 2016, the Public Works Committee and both the President and Executive Director of the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation conducted an onsite review of a converted gas light to LED at Triangle Park. Attendees were able to view a converted LED light and a gas light side by side. There was consensus amongst the meeting attendees that the conversion process to LED did not impact in any way the aesthetic nature of the light pole and the lumens projected by the light. In late of 2017, the Finance Committee reviewed a project program funding request to convert the 431 gas lights to LED. In March of 2018, the Finance Committee approved Gas Light LED Conversion Project.
The in-house conversion process is planned to occur over a total nine-year period. To-date 140 of the 431 gas lights have been converted. Every historical aspect of the light fixture and pole has been carefully maintained, only changing the gas burner to an electrical socket. The Public Works Department has not received any calls related to the aesthetic nature of any converted LED gas light. Once every conversion is completed, an estimated $75,000/year in utility and maintenance costs will be realized. For more information read the Lake Forest Love article highlighting the project!